Just like most young adults, I also live in another little locality extending on the corners of an already overcrowded colony filled with thousands. There is nothing special to this place: it’s just another one of the locality lost in the capital where we turn blind eye one too many times, another land full of sewage, full of broken streets, huddle of buildings we call home. But my home is also a part of this land, away from the noises of busy roads. Even through the faint hum of traffic in the background, there is something so visceral about the quietness of it all, quite which washes away the discordant reality of life. It is amazing how I step out of the city into this quiet haven. The jungle of modern times, made of brick and concrete, that rapes the naked simplicity of nature on every step. Generally my stroll through the dirt road use to be uneventful, but on certain evenings, out of the ashes of its stillness, it can surprise you.
I’m a family man, I have a loving wife, but don’t get me wrong, this little stretch of seven or eight hundred metres of pristine nakedness of land is something that calms my heart most, a solitude even the faint smell of decaying shrubs, struggling in the water, couldn’t deprive me of.
I was walking through the dirt road when my phone rang and just looking at the name on the screen ended up irritating me beyond comparison. “Hey Kabir,” I said. Kabir. Kabir, my friend. Kabir, the senior editor at KSP NEWS.
“When are you submitting the article, it has been four goddamn weeks now, Atul. I believed you and Sandhya would have figured out the details by now. What is taking so goddamn long?” Kabir said, all of that, in one long breath. That was something very unique to him. Stating his opinion in one stretch, without any regards for the person who ended up listening to it.
“No one cares about another villagers, Kabir. No one cares about freedom of religion. No one cares for us. I’m just tired man,” I said, the despair clearly evident in every word I said. Every word that took a heavy breath to escape my throat.
“The fuck happened to you,” He asked, while continuing, “Is everything alright at home. Did your father had another one of his ranting episode?” Again, one breath, the man needed to learn how to speak slowly, he needed to learn to control his words.
Only if I could have told him, only if he would have understood by my silence that I was in no mood to talk. But then how would he had been Kabir Rai. The goddamn editor of KSP NEWS
“Kabir, I’ll try to finish it tomorrow. Would that be okay?” I said, trying to finish the conversation as soon as I could.
“Fine, you take your time. After all, you’re the only reason we are earning any money.” The man seriously needed to improve his sarcasm too.
“Sure, your highness,” I said, a chuckle instantly gracing my otherwise grim face.
“Fuck you.” And with that he disconnected the call.
I realized something in that moment. Something which wasn’t life altering but it felt exactly like that. I would see Sandhya in the office the next day. I would be face to face with the pain I wanted to avoid.
Man is most conflicted when his inner peace meets his conflicted rage. Some great man might have said this or maybe someone evil, or it could be that I’m saying this but it doesn’t matter because it will be true nonetheless.
Why I chose journalism?
I don’t know if I even know the answer to that or whether the question is entirely wrong. Did my words influenced me to raise a voice against all the injustice I’d seen in my life or the injustice around me influenced me to write? I do not know. People like making up their past. I do not know why, but somehow they end up forgetting facts, truths and in their place, lies that they would like to have lived. I cannot do that, I remember my past all too well.
I can tell you many tales, but what would be the point. I can tell you the struggles of a rag picker, a ten year old boy who’ll never read a book. I can tell you about the idiots who just don’t understand the life they are given. Or maybe I could talk about the favourite topic for all, topic which would make me a pariah, let’s talk about the conflicts of Hindu and Muslims, but again isn’t free will a fucking joke. But is that really the point of journalism? Journalism is about writing the praise of our great leader. Our spiritual saviours. Our cricket team and maybe, just maybe our great business tycoons. Journalism is not for seeking justice. Journalism is not to be the voice of democracy. It’s not supposed to be any of that. It is just supposed to be a fucking joke.
“Man is most conflicted when his inner peace meets his conflicted rage.” There are so many moments in my life where these words seem to bind perfectly. The memories I can always reflect back to. The day I broke Sandhya’s heart is definitely one of them. The day I learned about her past is another one. The day we met Roshana for the article was another one. Or maybe the day my best friend committed suicide was the most important one. I don’t know what to say. Is my life really worth taking about, honestly, I do not know, but maybe I guess when I’m done with this, it’ll decide on its own. And as I sit here telling this little memoir, you might ask why should we read your words? Your guess is as good as mine.
Why indeed? I’m not a great leader, not a famous author, movie star, sportsperson or a brilliant policymaker who could tell you 10 ways to live better or quick ways to be a millionaire. I’m just a stupid journalist who believes in freedom of speech. There are so many things I didn’t learn. Things that I never liked. I might have been mistaken at that, for learning anything is useful at one or another point in life. I might have ended up being someone famous, someone important. Look at all the famous people. But I bet none of them are engineers and doctors. So not learning something important is the key, now I get it.
A carousel of emotions and conflicts. All this diatribe in my head ended up causing me to ignore or avoid the serene silence of the dirt road. When I ended up crossing it and reached my little locality was something I’d no recollection of. How sometimes we lose ourselves into our struggles that we end up losing the small things we otherwise cherish. My conflicted rage was going to keep destroying my inner peace for quite some time.
You think I’m a heretic, don’t you? Kabir used to think that too. Almost all my colleagues, my parents, my so called friends think that too. Only one person understood my frustration. Only one who felt the same way. Only one who chose journalism for the same reason I did. Sandhya. My friend. Sandhya, another soul who knew her past all too well.
I didn’t knew about her past until then. I didn’t knew what drove her to seek justice. I just felt I found a friend in whom I’ll find some kind of peace. Someone with whom I can rant my frustrations. Maybe the article was the best thing that ever happened to Atul, the journalist. It did destroyed Atul, the common man. But I finally found my peace. My freedom of speech.
Sometimes the only way to protect the people you love is by staying away from them. I needed to be away from everyone. Radhika, Sandhya, Kabir, hmm, who else, interesting, that’s how pathetic my life was. Only three people I could think of who mattered to me.